Last night my nephew Ashu spent the night. Over dinner he said to me “Aunt Dawnie, Dennis said I might die because I’m black.”
This statement took my breath away. Suddenly, I clearly understood what a 7-year old black boy and 8- year old Latino boy took away from a community in lock-down and a 24-hour news cycle. It was this conversation that made me realize why events unfolding 20 miles away in Ferguson mattered to me.
Ferguson matters because I was born in St. Louis and raised in the suburbs of this Gateway to the West. Ferguson matters because I have black friends and former co-workers who are deeply hurt by this situation. But probably most importantly, Ferguson matters because I am part of an inter-racial family, which causes me to see things differently now.
My comments aren’t going to point to the innocence or guilt of either Officer Wilson or the late Michael Brown. They are simply the latest characters in a very long drama from a human history filled with class warfare and racial conflict. These names are fueling the flames of what is broken and needs care today– urgent care.
A primal wound that has separated mankind based on skin color has once again been exposed for the wide and deep chasm that it is. Right in the Heartland of America, we are witnessing raw pain and turmoil because of skin color and generations of discrimination. As a white woman, I recognize there is no way I can completely understand or relate to this pain. However, it is critically obvious we have reached another boiling point in the realm of civil rights.
Right now, both sides of the conflict are locked in their own perspective, unable to take off glasses and find a new (color-blind) path of unity. I believe we all need new eyes and new ears; both sides, whites, and blacks, require a new perspective. The American Civil Rights Movement is just that …..a movement. It’s time to move this healing forward to the next stage of maturity and vitality. The status quo of racial reconciliation we’ve accepted in our country is not sufficient; there is still so much work that needs to be done together.
Americans call for revolution, which is violent, unforgiving, and consumed by a quest for liberty at all costs. Christians should call for redemption, which is filled with compassion, hope, and love for our neighbors. We need to begin to fix the problem from the bottom up and inside out, any other way will only be a band-aid. We need to come alongside our black brothers and sisters and seek reunification and healing together.
I don’t have the answers, but I believe we do have some keys for a new day of healing. For me, those patterns are found in my faith and through Scripture. Loving, serving, forgiving, while disengaging from harmful activities such as blame-shifting, coveting, and stealing are a good start – for both sides of this problem.
As simplistic as it may sound, I honestly believe if we embraced Jesus’ admonition to (1) love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, while (2) loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-38), we would find a very good start to solving some of the world’s toughest problems. The real trick here is to take personal responsibility for our own wrong beliefs and actions and learn to lay down our lives for someone else. Then, we collectively pray for grace, grace, and more grace to heal our land.
My son and nephew don’t yet understand the racial conflict raging in the American culture in which they are being raised. I pray these Ethiopian and Guatemalan sons can help our family put on some glasses that help us find new solutions to old problems. In fact, I hope the term “inter-racial family” doesn’t even exist in our culture 50 years from now.
As we enter a season of Thanksgiving, my prayer for my community and my nation is that we find new pathways together to unify the races and to help advance the Civil Rights Movement even further than I can imagine.